Monday, December 10, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas Past

This is our downstairs tree. It has 72 satin-wrapped styrofoam ornaments covered with tatting, and about a dozen small tatted snowflakes, one crocheted "pineapple" butterfly, and one green wooden tree ornament with "Marty" on it in calligraphy -- those are the ones I've made over the years. It has six glass ornaments covered with blue crochet and a dozen silver crocheted snowflakes -- those a good friend made. It has three clay ornaments -- a sock, a Santa, and a dove -- that my sister made, and the two glass pigs she gave us. Other than the two "sisters" snow-woman ornaments we bought, everything else is a gift that has special meaning.
I started making the covered ornaments (many years ago) with the idea of giving them as gifts. I did give quite a few away -- but only if I had duplicates. There are no real patterns for these, so I used each ornament as a pattern for another. Most of the early ones were doilies or snowflakes from pattern books with one less repeat -- to encourage them to bowl to fit the ornament. At the point I decided it might be a good idea to have patterns I had forgotten which books I used and which patterns I had adapted. I keep meaning to sit down with the box of ornaments and my pile of books to see if I can match them up -- but I can't find my round tuit.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Butterfly Five

Still not even close to using up a whole ball of yellow DMC Cébélia size 30 -- I did another couple of practice butterflies. Had the first one been a sentence, it would have been overly wordy. Once I could see it wasn't going to properly behave, I stopped and cut off the thread in frustration. On to the second trial. Yes, that worked much better. Being pleased with it, I made the smaller one in Coats pastels quilting thread. I left it for a long time thinking it was done and started working on another pattern. Just about the time I was going post it as butterfly four, I decided it was too square.
The next incarnation was made in Coats jewel tones quilting thread -- it's wings are slightly different from each other. It looked more like a water skeeter to me, but not disgustingly so. In fact, I liked it so much I just went on and did the next one with a few additional modifications. The final one I like quite well -- even if it, too, has a small waist and looks a little skeeterish. Maybe these will have to be butterflies 5a and 5b -- because now I've decided I like the square one after all. One thing I will have to do for this pattern is get a better picot gauge for the antennae. I used a package of needles and the cardboard was a little mushy. Might just as well have eyeballed 'em, they're so uneven!
The next job is diagramming what I actually did instead of what I thought would work for at least four of the five butterflies. My working patterns have more scribbles than even I can read. Might be best to just start over with new diagrams!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Butterfly Four

More of that yellow Cébélia size 30. This is a butterfly in profile -- by default. I started it as a butterfly with wings on both sides. By the time I got done with the first side (after taking out some chains, believe it or not) there was no way to finish the other. The poor butterfly body was bent in half. There's just too much going on in those wings. If I hadn't put this on the starch board and stretched the bejabbers out of it there's no way it would be flat. Maybe the pattern can be salvaged, but right now it needs too many changes and I've lost interest in it. Maybe later I will look over my diagram and figure out what to remove and where to change the joins and how many fewer stitches it needs. Yeah, later -- maybe next year or the year after or ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Butterfly Three

Again with the yellow Cébélia size 30 (maybe I can use the whole ball this way) I made the first attempt at this butterfly. It wasn't working quite the way I wanted, so the second wing is actually the second attempt. That seemed to work better so I made another one to be certain, and, after finishing, decided on a better place to reverse to work up the other side of the wing. The third one, in Coats pastel quilting thread was working really well -- right up to the end. I went to pull in the ending threads and pulled the magic thread out instead. The poor thing has a knot and a bit of fabric glue on the back. Then I thought, "Ha! The problem is where I'm starting." The fourth one (in Coats jewel quilting thread) started in a different place so that I could end with a split ring and make crocheted antennae. Ta-da! No thread ends to hide.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Butterfly Two

This is one of the "ewwww, that's icky" patterns reworked until I like it pretty well. The first one in Cébélia size 30 has no form to its body, but I rather liked the way the wings were working. Again with the size 30 I tried a new body and a bit of modification to the wings. Yes, that was better. Next I thought I'd try it in purple Coats quilting thread. Oops. I forgot a couple of picots -- can't hook a wing to its head! The first little one is, therefore, not a butterfly. It has no butter. It's just a fly. Try again. Rats, I did the bottom ring in the wrong sequence --again-- which made the chain joins down there weird. Still, it looks pretty good and I decided where the "magic threads" had to go. The final one is in Coats pastel variegated quilting thread. I didn't use the magic threads because this one is going on my jeans bag as well. I might try another one and reduce the size of the first set of chains on the bottom wing because it's just a bit squarish looking -- but mostly I like it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Butterfly One

Progression of the middle butterfly... The first incarnation in yellow Cébélia size 30 had too much going on in the center -- lots of chains to get the thread back to where I wanted to go without cutting (not to mention the halves didn't match). The second incarnation moves the thread in a better way to get all around this butterfly in one pass. That seemed to work, so I tried in in Coats rainbow quilting thread. Then I had this brainstorm in thinking that I could do the whole thing using a chain to connect the bits and just join the chain at the end. That also works, but gives a totally different look to the center. I left the long threads on the last one so I can sew it on my Treasures from Trash bag. The others will probably go into a little pile of "dunno, I'll decide what to do with that some other time." I'm working on a new one now and have two others in the "ewww that's icky" stage. Still, its possible the patterns can be altered enough to be not icky.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wasting thread

That's what I've been doing. When I couldn't tat, I was making all these complicated butterfly patterns -- without stitch counts. Wow, they look great on paper. Ewww. Not so good after I tried actually making them. The first one is a total no-go! I thought the second one had hope if I changed some things. I started to do that, and goofed on the second ring, so I just made the plain little butterfly -- which would have been better without the Josephine rings on the wings. Of course, the fact that they are yellow doesn't help. Maybe I just better get Ruth's and Sherry's books! The really good thing is I'm getting my fingers back.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Finishing Up One More

A long-sleeved "onsie" for a winter daughter. My sister did the tie-dye and I put a neck decoration on it in shades of pink. The buttons are smaller than the ones I used for the adult t-shirts, otherwise, this is the same pattern. Someone asked for the pattern, but this diagram is as far as I ever got with it. I hope it works for that someone, and anyone else interested! {oh -- click on the diagram and it will open into a larger picture} The thread I used was (again!) one strand of Gütermann cotton thread and one strand of Signature machine embroidery thread. Together they make something close to size 80 tatting cotton.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tag I'm It? What?

I've been tagged by Sapna -- it didn't hurt though.

Here are the rules which you must abide by if you are tagged.
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 3 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

So -- seven facts:

1. I learned to read before I started school.
2. I tried, but could not learn, macramé (just knot my thing).
3. Reading is as necessary as eating and breathing.
4. Paper and office supply stores are almost as fun as the bookstore.
5. My toes are really short and I can spread them out like fingers. A bunch of us had a write-with-your-toes contest in college and I won.
6. I like opera -- if there are supertitles that's even better because they're really pretty funny, even it they aren't intended to be.
7. I have a master's degree in history (for a reason!) and I do calculations for oil and gas title opinions, and the accounts receivable at work.

I'm tagging Bob, Martha and Arlene.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Learning to Tat?

This is how I learned to tat. I bought this brand-new book for 50 cents (in 1974), a metal Boye shuttle with a bobbin, and used some of my old crochet thread. It took a while for me to get things to work, because I wasn't using very good quality thread. I've kept the book all these years because it's still got patterns in it that I think are really pretty. I do wish they were diagrammed, though. After working with diagrams I find it hard to going back to reading all this long-hand! Hmmm...I suppose I could diagram them myself, right?
Oh -- one funny thing: The doll-lady sitting on the little sofa is knitting. Why isn't she tatting?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Never Again

Except for the color -- which I like -- what an absolute waste of two nights and a morning pretending to block this awful thing. I say pretending, because there aren't enough pins in this whole house to pin everything that needed pinning on the darn thing -- and we've got LOTS of pins. I made this years ago with cheap ecru crochet thread from DMC's Tatting for Today (1980), Motif 5. The motif looks really pretty as a starched snowflake; fastening them together was a mistake. I dug it out of a bag when my sister was in a mood to tie-dye. "Fix it up!" says I. She should have said (but didn't), "Are you out of your mind? That thing's hopeless!" She dyed it a nice solid plum. Nope, it still looked like a major undertaking to block. It sat crumpled in my bag for another two months. Finally, I decided since I was only good for blocking that's what I'd do. Ewww. Too many picots, the thread was too soft to hold them and they just curled and twisted. The outsides couldn't be stretched enough to let the inner rings lie flat. All in all, what a waste of time and effort. I don't know that it's even worth wrapping in acid-free paper for storage. My sister thought perhaps it could be a gift for the next wedding invitation I receive. I don't think I dislike anyone that much! I wonder if it would make a good mop rag?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blocking at Least

Lucky Clover by Blomqvist and Persson in Tatting Patterns and Designs is one of the last things I finished before hand surgery. It's taken a while to get my fingers willing to pick up pins, let alone push them into the blocking board. This one is made with "Jewel of the Nile" King Tut quilting thread. It measures about 6.25 inches (16 cm) in diameter. I don't have any plans for it, so it might end up as a gift.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Jeans Purse

The jeans purse is something less than one-quarter finished. I sewed a bunch of things on it, without taking pictures or scanning them first. With a little computer help, I made individual pictures of some of the pieces. This first one is a Jane Eborall flamingo (the Pamela Myers version). I used pink ombre polyester embroidery threads (because I didn't have any plain pink) and blue for the bill (because I couldn't find any black) and a silver bead for the eye. The swan (made with white polyester machine embroidery thread) turned into a duck, because it was so much smaller than the flamingo and I goofed somewhere in the pattern (also one of Jane's). The free-form doodle I posted on June 24th worked okay as a stylized pond, so I put some goldfish in it. I found the pattern for them somewhere on the web years ago. (if it's yours, please let me know).
The profile butterfly is a Sherry Pence pattern. I don't think I did it justice, though, because I added a little piece to avoid cutting and reattaching the thread. Then I modified it a tiny bit more and made a double-wing butterfly out of it. This side of the purse needs more butterflies and lots more flowers. I've got some made, but not enough. As soon as I get through physical therapy so my thumb works and my fingers have feeling (long about December, I understand) I've got to get this side finished! I haven't even given much thought to the rest of the purse for a while -- gotta start hunting up those star patterns.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Signature Thread

Someone left a comment somewhere on here that I can't find. Google told me there was an error when I approved it for publishing, so maybe it just ate the thing.
Anyway, if it was you asking about the size of the Signature thread -- this is my answer. It's a very fine thread, because it is a machine embroidery thread. It's about the same thickness as regular sewing thread. It's trilobal polyester. I have no idea what that means, but it seems to be less inclined to fuzz than polyester covered cotton sewing thread. It does tend to stretch when trying to close rings (well, it does if you tat as tightly as I do). I buy it at a local shop. I don't know if it is available somewhere on line; I've never looked. Here's a picture of the thread labels:

No Tatting for a While

Last Wednesday I had surgery on my left hand and wrist to take care of a carpal tunnel problem, a bone growth in my thumb and a cyst in my ring finger. Ick. All wrapped up for three days, it doesn't look too bad. Unwrapped, it's sorta ugly. The purple writing on my hand belongs to the doctor. He made notes so he'd know what to do when I was not awake to tell him. I had a red pen and wrote "yes" next to his notes. :) I guess it saves on errors!
Good thing I'm so right handed!
I'll be trying to get some things blocked and starched while it heals, so I can post pictures of those things. I also did a lot of work on my decorated jeans purse in anticipation of surgery. I only have a part of one quarter done, but it's really close to how I want it. I need to make some more butterflies and flowers. I'll be thinking of things I can post, anyway.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Neck or Nothing

T-shirts are so plain, aren't they? A bit of decoration and they look much better (of course my sister thinks they need dye, and some twisting, but, this works for me).

Both of these pieces were made with one strand of Signature machine embroidery thread and one strand of Gütermann cotton sewing thread wound together on the shuttles. The buttons are 5/8 inch four-hole buttons.

I combined one of the pieces of "baby lace" (see March 25th) with the decorated button (see May 28) I designed for the 25-Motif Challenge to create this neck decoration. After sewing some decorated buttons to a t-shirt for my sister and having them curl up after washing, I decided the entire piece had to be sewed to the shirt. Because of that, I didn't stitch through the buttons. These were gifts for my sister and my niece. I think they turned out pretty well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Something a Bit Different

Nope, these aren't tatted -- they're crocheted. They were all done a number of years ago (more than 5 certainly) and stored in tins or plastic bags or bins. Not a nice thing to do! They didn't wash up well, but my sister fixed 'em up when she was tie-dying. This first one was actually done by my mom. Somebody spilled something on it, and I told her I'd wash it and restarch it for her. Uh-huh, like a thousand years ago. Fortunately, she likes the result! It was twisted by itself then dyed in shades of purple and blue.
This second one was placed inside a t-shirt then twisted and dyed with the shirt in shades of blue. It used to be ecru, but very dirty ecru. I also think it was supposed to have individual pineapple points at the outer round. As I recall, it meant lots of threads to hide and I was sick of the color, so I just put it away. I like it the way it is now!
The third one was also placed inside a t-shirt and twisted then dyed in shades of purple. The picture doesn't do it justice!
Finally, she prepared a shirt and a doily for dying (soda-ash bath) and stretched them over a styrofoam board. I pinned the doily out to shape on top of the t-shirt. She put the dye into spray bottles and sprayed both the doily and the shirt. After an overnight stay in a plastic bag, they were separated, rinsed and washed. Then I pinned out the dyed doily. This one is all in one color of blue, but the back against the t-shirt didn't get dye on it, so the reverse side is pretty interesting. The t-shirt is mine, mine, mine!

Jeans Purse

Made from DMC size 80 yellow thread and vari-colored yellow-range beads, this is my representation of the sun. It's all made of split rings, and every ray was added separately. This is the front right-hand side "theme" for my Jeans Purse for the Tatting Treasures from Trash challenge. With the sun, I intend to use some flowers and butterflies and a few other small bits.
The front left-hand side has a night theme. So far I have completed the moon and some "maybe" stars. I know I'm going to use stars, but they might not be these particular samples. Ruth has put a number of star patterns on the Tatting Pattern Calendar and I intend to try out some of those. I know I want to use beads (because I'm a crow), so I'll have to work those into some of the patterns. They are all going to be colored stars, too -- a little realism, you know (well, very little).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Treasures from Trash

These are the first two pieces I've made to decorate my denim purse for the "Treasures from Trash" challenge. The end threads are long enough to use to fasten them to the purse -- I hope. One is obviously just a bit of lace. I'm not saying what the other one is -- just in case it doesn't work out!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Square Bookmark with Buttons Pattern

After some requests for a pattern for these bookmarks, I managed to cobble this one together. The instructions are sketchy and the diagram is a bit off-balance, but it's there! Now that I've figured out how I can do the diagrams I need to practice to refine them. But -- here's the square one with buttons if anybody is interested. I think if you click on the little picture it will open a bigger one that you can print.

After reading the comments on the size of the image, I resized it and am reposting it. I think it should print out on one page now -- without having to copy and paste it somewhere else before reprinting.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Plus Two

The first bookmark that went out in exchange really grew out of the rainbow quilting thread one. I liked how it looked with three joins in each of the four buttonholes, but thought it needed more body. Using slightly larger buttons and one strand of Signature pink ombre machine embroidery thread with a dark purple Gütterman sewing thread, achieved the right weight. But -- it was a little too crowded around the button. Another modification seemed to be in order. I kept the three rings near the button, but only connected two of them to the buttonhole. Yes. That looked just right to me. But the picots were in the wrong places and looked uncentered. Solution -- leave out the picots! This final one that was sent out as my exchange is made on shiny white buttons using Signature pastel variegated machine embroidery thread and Gütterman purple ombre cotton sewing thread. It's this bookmark that inspired the individual buttons I made as t-shirt decorations.

The second exchange bookmark was actually based on the second of my "try using buttons" experiments. I started with black buttons and white DMC size 80 tatting cotton. to make these connected squares. That was okay, but the
split rings between the squares made it too flexible. I don't even have a picture of the next incarnation, because I cut it off the buttons and threw it away. Essentially, I got rid of the separating split rings, but joined the end picots of the tops of the clovers. Can you say curled up? The next one worked just right -- but I forgot the magic threads. Rats. All the way to the end and -- oops -- where am I going to hide these threads? This lovely red, white and blue book mark has a knot and a nasty bit of glue to keep that polyester embroidery thread from slithering undone. Oh, well, it makes a good pattern piece. Finally, I got just the look I wanted and remembered to put in the magic threads. This one is made with Signature pastel machine embroidery thread and Coats pink ombre machine embroidery thread. I couldn't believe these two polyesters gave each other enough support so neither frayed, snagged or broke. Funny how things work sometimes. Besides, it's shiny. I like shiny.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Plus One

This has been so much fun, how can I give it up?

I've packed up my exchange bookmarks to send, so now I can post all the runners-up. The first one I made was supposed to be a repeat of what appears as my Ninth Motif, a bookmark made from "Design 39" in Christel Wiedmann's Tatting, 60 Original Lace Treasures. Must not have been paying the least bit of attention, because it came out looking completely different. Not just because it's done in green and white DMC size 30 Cébélia, either. It looked a little boring.

Moving on to something more interesting, I discovered buttons. Oh, I always knew buttons existed and that other people used them in tatting -- I'd just never bothered with them before. Yeah, before I discovered a package of about a zillion for 88 cents. (Okay, not a zillion, but a lot, anyway.) I looked over the buttons and decided my mom could use a bookmark. Her birthday's in July. Yeah, a nice red, white and blue bookmark. This time I just let the shuttle do something really simple while I got the feel of the buttons. (Signature red-white-blue variegated machine embroidery thread with DMC size 80 white tatting cotton).
That worked, but I wasn't too certain about the big gaps between the buttons. That seemed a little too flexible when I picked it up. about making the chains between the buttons cross over each other? I tried that next (Signature green ombre machine embroidery thread and DMC size 80 white tatting cotton). Not what I intended to do, because I somehow crossed them all the same direction and it wanted to untwist instead of stay flat. The second round was to keep it in control, but had to end in the same place as the first so my "magic threads" weren't wasted. The crossovers needed to be connected somehow and they should have been longer, maybe. Or maybe not.

The next incarnation has cross-overs in opposite directions which are longer and are attached together in the center. But it's as flexible as the first red, white and blue one (using the same thread combination, too). One more change to give the same effect but not actually cross the threads resulted in this little bookmark. The buttons are smaller and it's made with just one strand of Coats rainbow variegated hand quilting thread. It's still too flexible, and the thread is just too fine to make a sturdy bookmark. Without the tail, it might have made a nice fake button placket for a pull-over shirt.

The exchange bookmarks were made next, so I'll save them for later.

Finally, I made this pink bookmark on tiny little two-hole buttons I found in the scrapbooking section at Roberts. I thought it was a really weird looking thing, but my sister picked it up, turned it over, and said "Oh, butterflies!" Really?
Okay, now I have to figure out how to work it upside down. That wasn't as hard as I expected, I just started at the other end with a little clover. Then I had to figure out how to make a tail and go back up the other side to get back to the top and my "magic threads." Somehow, the chains just didn't come out quite even on both sides. I know they've got the same number of stitches. It has to be something to do with the rings on one side and only joins on the other. Both of these were made with one strand of Signature variegated and one of Gütterman sewing thread in different colors, of course). The tiny purple buttons in the second version very nearly disappear into the work.
Finally, I made my pattern piece starting at the bottom of the tail with a simple butterfly then a split ring chain into a clover (for a place to put those magic threads, you see), up one side to a little butterfly at the top and back down to the clover. This one is made with one strand of DMC size 80 tatting coton in a bright magenta and tiny pink scrapbook buttons. The scrapbook buttons don't leave much room for the three joins in each hole. I had to use my size 16 crochet hook to ease (okay, pull, tug, wiggle and yank) the thread through those holes. I've bought some other very small buttons and am going to try this again with a strand of the Signature and a strand of DMC size 80 tatting cotton. That combination should make it just the right weight.